Surfing African wave less travelled

By Barbara Hollands

MOROCCO is usually associated with colourful souks, richly patterned rugs and enchanting mosques and Kasbahs but, according to an East London surfer, it is also an increasingly popular surfing destination.

East London surfer Marc Fennel is living every surfer's dream by running a popular surf camp in Morocco PHOTOGRAPH: BARBARA HOLLANDSTranskei-born Marc Fennell, 30, is a surf camp manager at Surf Berbere in the village of Taghazout, in southern Morocco, where his job is to show surfers from all over the world where the best breaks in this region of the North African country can be found.

“I was quite surprised when I got here to work as a surf photographer in 2009 that the waves can be as good as the best surf in the Eastern Cape.  There are a lot of right hand point breaks and long rides and the best conditions are between November and February, which is the opposite to the Eastern Cape,” said Fennell, who is now a shareholder in the business and spends most of the year “living the dream”.

The “very social” beach-side surf camp attracts beginner and experienced surfers from all over the world, including Scandinavia, Germany, Britain, America and Australia and guests stay in a boarding house so close to the surf that waves splash onto the balcony during Spring tide.

“It’s a great place just five metres from the high water mark and I certainly don’t get tired of the view,” said Fennell, who is also a keen filmmaker, and produced well-known surf documentary ‘Even Flow’ with fellow East Londoner and professional surfer Royden Bryson a few years ago.

Fennell said surf culture had now infiltrated Moroccan life.  

“The locals are no strangers to the sea and there is quite a large group of locals who surf. I’ve become involved in development surfing and seen the talent grow especially in the last few years. There is a good batch of Moroccan surfers and they are part of the ISA (International Surfing Association) and go to the World Junior Championships,” said Fennell, who plans to bring one or two of the best young Moroccan surfers to visit Jeffreys Bay one day.

“I guess I landed with my bum in the butter and am living the dream.

“Sometimes I feel like a pro surfer because I get up in the morning with a choice of 150 surfboards and wetsuits and I can take guests to the best surf and afterwards we get served great food. I live like a king, but it’s still work because you have to ensure your guests are happy.”

This is a shortened version of an article that appeared in the print edition of the Weekend Post on Saturday August 11, 2012.

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